Stakeholder communication & engagement

Policy writing should occur collaboratively and should explicitly seek to incorporate the views of specific user groups, including, women, children, and persons with disabilities. Implementation of NMT improvements involves a diverse cross section of government departments and key stakeholders including but not limited to transportation planning, urban development, policing/public security, housing, education, public transport, and public health interests. A multi-disciplinary team gives the best chance of designing policies and interventions that meet the need of the people of the city. Broad participation in the development of an NMT strategy can help keep the strategy relevant and understandable, and prevent key areas from being overlooked. Consultation with other parties also promotes consensus and accountability.

Modes of engagement can include the following:

  • One-on-one meetings. Discussions with implementing agencies and other stakeholders can allow the team to develop a detailed understanding of agency responsibilities and ongoing projects.
  • Focus groups: Focus groups can help generate information about priorities of local stakeholders. The semi-structured discussion format can help bring out ideas that are otherwise hard to capture in questionnaires. Focus groups can target specific user groups, such as women or persons with disabilities.
  • Online surveys: Online surveys can help reach a broad audience to gather information on issues faced by NMT users. Care should be taken when interpreting online survey results given that the respondents may tend to have a higher average income than the population as a whole.
  • Interview surveys: Interviews with NMT users can help elicit feedback on user perceptions and priorities.
  • Site visits: Field visits for government officials can help introduce policy makers to the realities of the NMT environment and challenges faced by NMT users.
  • Participatory workshops: As the strategy is being prepared, a stakeholder workshop with relevant implementing agencies should be organised to gather input on the draft strategy.
Figure 5. A typical engagement strategy for the development of an NMT strategy.
A typical engagement process for the development of an NMT strategy.

As the NMT strategy is implemented, communications and engagement activities can play a key role in building public support. Effective messaging about NMT and public activities can build enthusiasm for NMT use and can begin to foster a changed culture that accepts walking and cycling as integral modes of transport. In addition, participation of local residents, businesses, and other stakeholders in the planning and design of streets can help improve transparency and foster the community’s active use and sense of ownership of public spaces. Communications and outreach activities can include the following:

  • Open streets events can help introduce the idea of streets as spaces that provide equitable access for all users. During such events, where private motor vehicles are temporarily banned and streets are opened for exclusive access by pedestrians and cyclists. Programmed activities during open streets events can include health and fitness activities, dance classes, bicycle maintenance clinics, inclusive recreation, and arts activities.
  • Marketing campaigns can raise the profile of walking and cycling, encourage usage of the city’s bicycle sharing system, and encourage safe driving among motor vehicle drivers. To reach a diverse audience, such campaigns should make use of multiple channels, including television, radio, print media, and social media.
  • Cycle trainings can introduce safe cycling techniques and encourage ridership among new users, especially women and youth.
  • Sustainable commuting days for government staff can expose city engineers and planners to issues faced by NMT and public transport users and will give an opportunity for staff to “lead by example.”
  • Use of bicycles by city officials, including the police, can help change the image of cycling.
  • Participatory planning activities will give community members a chance to offer input on plans and designs for NMT projects.
  • NMT award for local authorities: National governments can organise annual awards to recognise excellence in NMT design.
A Critical Mass bike ride during Placemaking Week in Nairobi. (Source: ITDP Africa)